Thursday, February 26, 2015

Faculty Interview: Rod Miller

Compiled by Jason Henry

Are you excited? We certainly are! Why shouldn't we be? The 2015 Pikes Peak Writers Conference is just around the corner! It has been an absolute pleasure recruiting the incredible faculty that we have lined up for you this year and the workshops they will be teaching are proving to be just as amazing.

Pikes Peak Writers Conference is known as one of the best and friendliest conferences for many reasons. One of those reasons is that we provide as many opportunities as possible to not only learn from our faculty, but to get to know them. Keeping in the spirit of that very statement, we interviewed all of our faculty members to get inside their heads just a little. Really, we don't see the point in waiting until April. Do you?

Over the weeks to come, we will be posting those interviews along with the responses right here on the PPW Blog. Be sure to check in on Facebook and Twitter as well! We hope you enjoy reading these brief Q&As as much as we have!

ROD MILLER (Author, Utah)

1. What are the most compelling elements you feel are necessary for a good read?
Believable characters dealing with credible conflicts as they try to maintain dignity in contrary situations or settings. I think this true of any and all stories, real or imagined, serious or humorous, fact or fiction.

2. What do you see as the pleasures and difficulties of being a writer/artist in today's world? 
The pleasures include being able to immerse yourself in another world. It can be a world of your own making when writing fiction, another time or place when writing history, the lives of others when writing magazine articles, the world of words when writing poetry, the world of ideas when writing essays, and so on. There’s no end to the places you can go.

The biggest difficulty, I think, is that I do not care to visit the worlds of vampires or wizards or a dystopian future or bizarre eroticism or other worlds more likely to lead to fame and fortune.

3. What is the best career/writing advice someone has given you? 
Don’t quit your day job.

4. Would you pass that same advice on or alter it? 
Pass it along, with additional advice to not let making a living interfere with writing—or doing whatever you want to do in life—any more than you have to.

5. What do you love most about your career? 
It’s an enjoyable activity that’s less frustrating than golf, doesn’t require the hand-eye coordination of video games, is less expensive than skiing, and occasionally results in enough income to take my wife to dinner. (Which is why I write, rather than play golf, video games, or ski.)

6. What is something you wish everyone knew (or didn't know) about you? 
Knew: I’m not as bad as you think I am. Didn’t know: I’m probably worse than you think.

7. Which fictional character do you relate to the most, and why? What character would your friends/family pick for you? 
It would probably be politic to say I relate to characters like Atticus Finch or Jean Valjean or someone else with lofty moral qualities. But I am drawn to Augustus McCrae in the Larry McMurtry novel Lonesome Dove. Gus has an approach to life I agree with, best summarized by his saying to his partner, Woodrow Call, “Well, I’m glad I ain’t scairt to be lazy.”

Laziness is an overlooked virtue, as evidenced by Gus’s follow-up statement: “Hell, Call, if I worked as hard as you, there’d be no thinking done at all around this outfit.”

Just sitting and thinking may look lazy to others, but, for me, it’s how things get written. I spend a lot of time thinking about what I am going to write. Then, when I get around to actually “doing something,” I tend to get it written fairly quickly—which leaves more time for laziness.

My wife, on the other hand, says I’m like Ebenezer Scrooge. But I am certain that’s because we have recently survived (sort of) another Christmas season and it is still on her mind. And I am confident she means the transformed Scrooge after being whipped into shape by various ghosts. For sure. Absolutely. I think.

Quick Qs:

Pen or Keyboard? Keyboard

Plotter or Pantser? Pantser

Book or E-Book? Book

Spicy or Mild? Spicy

Sunrise or Sunset? Noon and Midnight

Mister Rogers or Sesame Street? Sesame Street

Facebook or Twitter? Huh?

Rod Miller writes about the American West in poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. He is two-time winner of the Western Writers of America Spur Award—for short fiction and poetry—winner of the Westerners International Poetry Award, the Academy of Western Artists Buck Ramsey Award for Best Poetry Book, and was named 2012 Writer of the Year award by the League of Utah Writers.

Author of five novels, four nonfiction books, and three poetry books, Miller is also author of numerous anthologized poems and short stories, dozens of book reviews, and many magazine articles. His latest books are Goodnight Goes Riding and Other Poems from Pen-L Publishing and a tall-tales novel, Rawhide Robinson Rides the Range: True Adventures of Bravery and Daring in the Wild West, from Five Star. Release of a follow-up novel from the same publisher, Rawhide Robinson Rides the Tabby Trail, is imminent, as is a nonfiction book from TwoDot/Globe-Pequot, The Lost Frontier: Momentous Moments in the Old West You May Have Missed.

A frequent presenter at writers’ conferences, workshops, and other events, Miller is a member of Western Writers of America and received the 2014 Branding Iron Award for his service to the organization.

Visit him online at and

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